[x] Buster Sword
All of the choices are honestly very attractive. The idea of spinning through the battlefield with two greatswords inspires awe. And being able to twirl a weapon that resembles a polearm like Sieglinde - even if it technically doesn't quite qualify as a polearm - is similarly encouraging.
But although it's a close choice, you ultimately gravitate towards the largest weapon of the bunch. Yes, the buster sword is ridiculous, easily dwarfing your previous weapon of choice. Where the greatsword is heavy but reasonably conventional, this new weapon looks like it has less in common with a sword compared to a huge slab of metal. Yet the thought of being able to take out any foe with a good swing is just too irresistible to pass up.
With conviction, you quietly point to the buster sword.
It's hard to tell whether this is actually your instructor's favored pick - she didn't look like she really wanted you to choose one particular weapon over another - but upon seeing your selection, she rubs her hands together with glee. "Go on, pick it up," she encourages. Then cackles, "Oh, the destruction we shall be wreaking together!"
"I-I'm back," you announce as you attempt to step through the door to your dorm room. "Attempt" being the key operative word there, because while the first few embarrassing weeks at Faulkren conditioned you to be mindful of the greatsword's size when passing through doors, the buster sword is an order of magnitude larger. Once again, you contend with the startlement and embarrassment of your training weapon hitting the doorframe, except instead of the customary "bang" that is a large training weapon striking wood, you are instead treated to a much louder "thwump" courtesy a gigantic training weapon, enough to cause Stephanie to swivel around in her seat with a start.
You do feel guilty for her sensitive aseri ears.
Your roommate has the grace not to be too bothered as she begins to acknowledge your return from martial training. "Welcome bwhaaat," her words seem to melt together and rise in pitch as she fully registers your new profile with wide, startled eyes, "is that!?"
Or perhaps she's staring less at you and more at the new weapon strapped onto your back. "I-It's a greatsword," you answer meekly, somewhat taken aback at Stephanie's reaction as she continues to stare.
"No," the aseri sounds adamant, her gaze still not removing itself from your buster sword. "I've seen your greatsword." She points. "That is..."
"...A b-buster sword?"
"I-It's just a bigger greatsword!"
"Sure, and a direwolf is a bigger cub!"
"D-Direwolf cubs are cute t-too!" you say, cradling your sheathed buster sword self-consciously, as if its feelings may be hurt. It feels silly doing it. It probably looks silly doing it, judging by Stephanie's reaction as she compares your height - or lack of it - with the giant mass that is your training buster sword.
"It's bigger than a direwolf cub," grouses Stephanie; the initial shock is wearing off, giving way to a dry incredulity that nonetheless resembles bewilderment. "You have to be trying to compensate for something."
You hunch in on yourself, looking like you're hiding behind your "direwolf cub". Hopefully, everyone else's reactions to your choice of weapon will be less dramatic.
"...As long as you don't tip over when you swing that," Sieglinde advises.
"You're trying to show me up, aren't you?" asks Elizabeth with a cheery smile after looking you up and down, as if drawing attention to your similar heights or lack thereof. Which does nothing to make you feel any more at ease, buster sword or not.
"I see someone is very eager to get into the action," Aphelia observes with a raised eyebrow and an amused tug at the corner of her lips.
"That's...a shield?" Vesna asks after giving your weapon a considerable moment of study. "...Right?"
"...Oh," Azalea mouths, staring for a moment. Her lips part every now and then, as if making several failed attempts to find something - or at least something witty - to say. Ultimately, she blankly settles on: "...My."
Mia looks at you for a long, weighted moment, cocking her head to the side, ears perked. Then, she brightens. "I bet you could pick me up no problem, huh? Let's try it!"
"What," Lucille gapes, as a small stack of books tumbles unnoticed out of her hands.
"What," Nikki gapes, as a trickle of water spills unnoticed from her cup.
"What," Penelope gapes, as a smidge of rice slides unnoticed off her spoon.
"Now," the elven polearm instructor opines on a chilly, snowless day, "it's just a training weapon, but...well. At that size, the 'training' part doesn't really mean that much." She gives her apprentice an "encouraging" push forward. "So try not to get hit!"
On the other side of the sparring ring and with no trivial amount of alarm, Wendy stares at your apologetic but futile attempt to make your buster sword appear less threatening, looking absolutely certain that this is your form of vengeance.
[x] Tell Stephanie.
[x] Tell Sieglinde.
[x] Tell Elizabeth.
What you've heard is probably meant to be secret. And, if shared with the wrong people, could end disastrously. It may even cost lives. But, at the same time, if you can't share secrets with your own squad - characterized as "broody" by more than one person at this point - then whom can you trust here?
"C-Can you come with me?" you ask Stephanie, rising from your bed and onto your feet. Although she looks slightly apprehensive, the aseri nods, and follows you and your walk out the dorm. The apprehension rises sharply when you knock on the room next door, but she stays with you even as the door opens to reveal Sieglinde there, looking out with mild puzzlement in her bedclothes. "M-May we come in?" you ask. "There's s-something I need to tell you."
The elf doesn't seem terribly bothered as she swings the door open further to admit the two of you, and closes it when the two of you are in. Elizabeth watches you from where she sits on her bed, also in her bedclothes, which looks rather similar to the white dress she's seen wearing so often. Rather curiously, she seems more awake than her usual lethargic impression.
"What's this?" asks Elizabeth with a wry smile on her lips. "It's quite scandalous to visit a lady so secretly so late in the night, never mind two."
You flush red a little at the implication - Nikki's joke about you wearing her collar is still fresh on your mind - but manage to steel yourself as you explain what you heard outside the baths. How the wyvern attack at Roldharen was masterminded by a Tenereian covert squad known as the Squirrels. How their specialty is using beasts and monsters as their primary means of offense. How they mask their true identity by hiding in the wilderness and masquerading themselves as a traveling circus. How their existence became known to Caldran mercenaries by Ornthalian spies.
When you finish, the heavy silence that follows is interrupted by Elizabeth's yawn. "The Squirrels?" she asks, plainly amused. "I suppose all the good names were taken that day."
"Should you," asks Stephanie with a bit of a furrow on her brow, "be telling us this? I mean, not even Headmistress Rastangard is telling the other instructors, yes?"
You fidget, shifting your weight from foot to foot. "It...seemed important?" you offer weakly.
"No one told her not to tell us," Elizabeth said, more seriously than her last comment. "Although this really isn't the sort of information you want spreading around, if you’re coordinating a defense."
"I suppose not," Stephanie concedes; she crosses her arms, although the gesture seems to resemble uncertainty rather than defensiveness. "Although I guess..." she inhales for a moment, expels that breath, and clarifies, "...what does this mean, exactly?"
"It could mean many things," Elizabeth says with an exaggerated, patient cadence that somehow feels a little insulting. She begins counting out the possibilities on pale, delicate fingers: "It could mean that the Tenereians are trying to disrupt matters in the other regions in preparation for a new offensive. Or it could mean that a general somewhere has been forced into retirement and her replacement has less scruples about ravaging the countryside with tamed monsters. Or, if we're unrealistically lucky, it could mean that they're getting ready to call off the invasion and are trying whatever they can think of before that." She shrugs. "Or it could be that certain bards like to invent tall tales for a crowd. You can play the 'what could it mean' game forever, when you have limited information."
"No, I mean," Stephanie cuts in, looking mildly unimpressed, "what can we do about it, now that we know about this?" There's a hint in her voice that suggests she isn't looking for something to do about this insomuch as she's expressing skepticism.
"Very little," sniffs Elizabeth nonchalantly. "I certainly wouldn't bother thinking too much about it, especially since we can't do anything about it."
"I j-just thought that if I knew about it, th-then you should too," you admit, suddenly feeling oddly silly. Of course there isn't anything in particular that the four of you can do about this, other than to emotionally prepare for the worst coming to pass, whatever that might be. "We're a squad," you add, attempting to put an amount of force on the last word, to perhaps mixed success.
Stephanie shuffles a little at that; it's difficult to tell whether the motion is born of awkwardness or something else. For her part, Elizabeth gives a small little scoff, but nor does she seem in any hurry to correct you.
It is instead Sieglinde - who has thus far held her silence - who speaks instead to fill the moment of silence that follows. "It is," she declares with an odd amount of reserve, if the toneless quality of her voice and the slow cadence of her speech is any indication, "often necessary to compartmentalize information and intelligence, in ways that may affect morale and security. With this in mind, the correct course of action would've probably been to keep what you've overheard a secret." You flush a little, wondering if this is Sieglinde's version of a rebuke, at least until she adds, "But armies have long sought to establish the perfect union of size, efficiency, and - just as importantly - camaraderie amongst small fighting units, the feeling of...family, for the lack of a better word. That you prioritize what you see as the welfare of your squad over larger armies, institutions, or concepts is..." here the elf pauses for a moment, before concluding, "...not without value."
You wonder if this is about as close as Sieglinde gets to a compliment.
"Nonetheless," she adds, "I suspect it would be best if we kept this a secret amongst the four of us. Headmistress Rastangard has her reasons for keeping this close to the chest, and it'd be best if we don't end up accidentally ruining her plans."
"I-I wasn't going to tell anyone e-else," you say quickly. Not entirely true - a few names had come up in your head earlier - but close enough to the truth, at the very least. Your squad was by far the people you wanted to inform most.
"I can keep a secret," Stephanie nods.
Elizabeth gives a short, terse laugh when the three of you look at her. Because, at least to her, the notion that she'd tell anyone else here at Faulkren Academy is downright hilarious.